tv Meet the Press MSNBC June 17, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
this morning, the economic debate. it's the very heart of this campaign. did it spark recovery, create jobs and break the stalemate over how to balance the budget. it's what the choice is all about in november. >> don't forget, he's been president for 3 1/2 years. and talk is cheap. action speaks very loud. >> if you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for mr. romney. >> for the president, a major economic speech in ohio. for romney, a made for tv bus tour through the battle ground. which one is swaying independent voters? the debate here this morning chlt with us, senior white house adviser david plouffe. and the gop's nominee four years ago, senator john mccain.
plouffe and mccain this morning. then our political roundtable breaks down how the obama and romney campaigns are waging the fight. overcoming setbacks, and summer strategies. with us, senior political analyst for "time" magazine, mark halperin. former democratic congressman harold ford. editorial board member of "the wall street journal," kim strassel. presidential historian doris kearns goodwin. and associate editor of "the washington post," as well as author of the new biography out this week titled "barack obama: the story," david marinous. and finally on this father's day, a big leaguer's memories about his own dad's greatest lesson. anything is possible. >> my dad used to say to me, you know, jim, what's taken away once is given back ties. you've been given so much more than was ever taken away. and that's that sense of responsibility that i felt. to live up to this. to do right by it.
good morning. the big political story this morning, the big economic story not happening here in the u.s., it's happening in greece. voting is moving forward there, will happen throughout the day, and results later. certainly important to the political economy and therefore to the presidential race here at home. joining me this morning the president's senior adviser david plouffe. happy father's day. >> you, as well, david. >> thank you. good to have you here. so here is the question which greece in mind, what's more important for the results of this presidential campaign? what happens in greece, or what happens in ohio? >> well, ultimately ohio has 18 electoral votes. obviously europe, we're facing some headwinds in the economy. in the first year we faced headwinds in europe. there's obviously meetings of the g-20 in mexico over the next couple of days and i think they'll make some progress there. the european leaders are going to get together the end of june. this,we believe firmly, that this is in the european's capacity to stabilize the
situation. you know, we have some experience with this. we did some hard and tough things during our recession. so obviously we need europe as a source of obviously a lot of our exports. it's affected the global economy. and i think for the health of our middle class and the health of our economy we need to have that situation stabilized. >> europe is a big player in the fall campaign. >> well, obviously what happens in europe can affect our economy. now, obviously this is the european situation. they only have the capacity to solve it. we're giving advice. we've been through a tough situation. and obviously there's talk of things like banking unions, and deposit insurance. things that would provide a little bit more stability and security and we're hopeful that they'll continue to make progress on that. >> let me come back to the economy in just a minute. i want to go to immigration. what the president announced on friday to provitry to provide a with waivers initially and maybe a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. you don't have to be a cynic to say this is all about politics here just months before an election. >> it isn't about politics. first of all, this was a decision made by the homeland
security department to allow them the discretion to focus our enforcement on criminals, people who pose danger to the community. that's really where the law enforcement focus should be. you've got these young people here, through no fault of their own, many of them came here early, who are studying in our schools, working in our businesses, want to serve our military and we tried to pass the dream act which would give them relief. congress has refused that. this is not a permanent fix. this is for a two-year period folks can come in and apply to get work authorization. those cases will be reviewed on a case by case basis. ultimately we need congress back here and we would sign the dream act tomorrow, the next day, the day after that. >> the congress says this is an end run around congress, senator mccain will be here saying this is a power grab by this president. will this decision stand? >> yeah, we are absolutely confident, the homeland security attorneys say it's well within our boundaries to do. but again congress hasn't acted. whether it's the economy. you saw republican members of congress openly this week in articles saying i can do anything on the economy before the election because they want
to help romney. it's a remarkable thing. this is just, this is again the department of homeland security, this is an enforcement position. and so, we need a permanent solution. we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. the president has often said those two things don't need to be in conflict. and the only pathway here is now senator mccain should get some credit because he unlike a lot of members of his party currently has tried to accomplish something on the congressional forum and ultimately i think we're going to get that done but in the meantime congress hasn't acted. so if they want to do something about this, they ought to pass the dream act right away. >> this president has dramatically increased the number of deportations, getting illegal immigrants back out of the country. he has not, as he had hoped to do and promise to do, passed comprehensive immigration reform. why do you believe this president has an advantage over mitt romney when it comes to latino voters? >> well, we obviously deportations are up. we're doing a terrific job on the border. we've provided more resources down there.
we really need to be focused on deporting criminals and those that have records. 80% increase, by the way, deportation of criminals. and that's where the focus needs to be. not on kids who are just trying to earn a piece of the american dream. when it comes to latino voters, health care reform, mitt romney if he's elected president said he'd get rid of health care reform. supporters of student loans. mitt romney would decimate student loans. this president has cut taxes religiously and frequently for small businesses and i think there's a lot of -- listen we're going to have to fight for everybody. this is going to be an exceedingly close election. there's no doubt our strength in the latino voters can help in states like nevada, colorado -- >> you told the new yorker this week if we win latino voters will play a big role in that. your view is that mitt romney can't compete among hispanics. >> listen he's going to try to compete everywhere as will we. this is going to be a very, very close election. listen, let's just talk about immigration for a minute. mitt romney said he would veto the dream act if he's elect president. veto it. during the republican primary in
debate after debate he talked about how he would send the 11 million people home. if you're looking for immigration reform, comprehensive reform, mitt romney is never -- he's been clear, he's not going to be a solution. so, i think that the latinos, like every voter, very focused on the economy, who is going to be better on the middle class. that's a speech the president gave in ohio which is a choice in this election economically. that's what we need to focus on because rarely have we seen differences so profound on the economy. >> on the economy, we come back to that, basically the strategy is, if the president wins, taxes have to go up. and that -- you feel like you'll have the leverage, taxes on upper earners in the country will go up, and that's really take it or leave it deal that you'll present to republicans. fair? >> well, this president has cut taxes for the average middle-class family $3,600. he would sign a permanent extension of the bush tax cuts for the middle class, any time congress passes it. but this is a big difference. the republican philosophy, mitt romney's philosophy, the congressional republican philosophy are the same policies
that led to the great recession in the first place. >> my question, which is what you'll say is if the president wins, taxes for wealthy americans have to go up, that's going to be the basis of any grand bargain on the budget deficit, taxes have to go up. >> yeah. we think that -- here's the recipe for deficit reduction package. it's obviously revenue -- now tax reform means president -- corporate tax rate, interested in getting rid of a lot of loopholes, lowering rates if we can. yes, the wealthiest american also have to spend a little bit more, along with entitlement reform. whether it's simpson-bowles, any independent economist who says what's the recipe for long-term fiscal package, it's at its core balance and fairness. that's been the barrier. the reason we weren't able to get a big deal last year was the insistence on republicans at all costs, and by the way it's not just on the deficit, what is their single economic idea? it's to cut taxes for people like mitt romney, and somehow hope that trickles down to middle class. it didn't work then and it's not going to work now. >> let's talk about what worked
then and what's not working now. mitt romney says this is purely a referendum on the president's record, 3 1/2 years in office, and where is the economy? now bill clinton, former president who's been a surrogate for this president, sometimes off message, but a surrogate nonetheless, back in 2010, during the midterm race, he was campaigning and this is how he framed the choice for voters back then. >> the democrats are saying something like this, look, we found a big hole that we did not dig, and we didn't get out of in 21 months but at least we quit digging. don't go back in reverse. give us two more years, if it doesn't work you have another election just two years you can vote us all out then. >> well the election is here. things have not changed. why shouldn't people take former president clinton's advice and say, it hasn't worked after one term, we should choose an alternative? >> well, david, first of all let's remember where we were. we were on the verge of a great depression. caused by the same policies that governor romney and 9 republicans in congress want to
go back to. we've stabilized. we've had private sector job growth now for 26 straight months. the president is the first person to say the economy is not as strong as any of us would like it to be. every election is a choice. mitt romney, when he was governor of massachusetts, had the worst economic record in the country. number one debt, 47th in job creation. so he's tried it there and it didn't work. we saw what happened in the last decade. falling income, exploding deficit. mitt romney and his congressional allies, by the way he's aspearing with speaker boehner today in ohio which is fitting because ultimately he's going to pick a vice president to run with. ultimately his running mate is the congressional republican agenda. he's adopted it hook, line and sinker. you want to go back to the policies where we exploded our debt, middle class falls farther behind, the only answer is tax cuts for the wealthy, short change things like education. we need to focus -- this is going to be a close election. that's that going to change between now and november. what we need to focus on, the politics of it aren't going to change. going to be a very close election. let's feekous on the choice and
the content -- >> but knit romney says focus on the record. you talk about how bad the problems were. this president knew that and that's why we chose to pass a nearly trillion dollar stimulus. that's why you passed financial reform. that's why you passed a health care law which was about our economic security. so you did some very big things that have not really sparked recovery. so why isn't that part of the record what should really be analyzed? >> woo are recovering slowly. everybody who worked the financial crisis understands how long -- president clinton spoke very powerfully about this. it takes a long time to recover from a financial crisis. we are beginning to make progress. we've obviously got to expedite that and we've got to stay on the right path. governor romney can talk all he wants about our record we're happy to have that debate. but, it's equally important to say, mitt romney is not just a safe alternative where you wave a magic wand and say oh, he becomes president and all 6 a sudden we're going to have the economy. he's been very clear his
economic policies failed in the past, they'll fail now, they're going to put us further in dead. moody's economist this week just said the romney economics plan would cause more harm in the short-term and slow down the recovery. so his recipe is not going to work. so this president is committed to making sure we continue to recover from the recession. to rebuild more security for the middle class. which is the defining challenge of our time. >> you talk about democrats right now, a tough couple of weeks for the campaign, including a mistab the president made talking about the private sector doing fine. here are some of the headlines that no doubt you see some across your desk, concerns among democrats, a feeling that major donors feel that he could actually lose, jim carville worried about obama's message on the economy. are you dealing with a sense of panic among democrats? >> no. listen, i think what we need to do is embrace the fact that this is going to be a close election. it's going to come down to a few votes per precinct in a few states. what we need to focus on like a laser beam is fight as hard as we know how to win this
election. because this country cannot afford, president clinton actually said it will be calamitous for the country if mitt romney is elected president. so the stakes here are enormous. the choices are profound. and what democrats need to do and anybody who supports this republican, independents and republicans out there, is work like heck to win this election. that's where we need our energy focused. not on some of the hand wringing that sometimes occurs in our party. >> latinos decide the race. can we -- can we infer that based on the attention that the president's giving to immigration, something that he could actually do with this order on friday? >> now listen, you can't say that one voting group or even one state, it's too premature to say that. this is going to be a close election. now listen we're running a grassroots campaign. we believe in registeri ining voters, turning them out, neighbors talking to neighbors. our campaign is building the breast grassroots operation you've seen to win a close race. this is going to come down to a few states. we think we've got a lot of strength for latino voters, women voters. we're going to have to fight for every vote. >> before you go, do you think
the president believes a special council will be necessary to deal with all of the leak questions that have come out? >> no. the attorney general appointed two united states attorneys to look at this with great fairness and investigate this, you know, completely. and we think that's a smart move. and obviously we believe the president said he has zero tolerance for leaks and hopefully the investigation will get to the bottom of it? >> these are not authorized leaks? >> of course not. we don't need the leaks to tell the story of the president on foreign policy. ending the iraq war, a plan tending the afghanistan war. unlike our opponent who doesn't want a time line. decimating the al qaeda leadership including bin laden. this president committed to the american people that he would do certain things in foreign policy and he's delivered on each and every one of them. >> david bluf. thank you very much, as always. when we come back, more of the debate this week. immigration policy, our next guest called it a power grab by president obama. also, how does mitt romney run against the president? the man who ran against obama in 2008, senator john mccain joins me next. a little later on, david
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disturb people after the initial euphoria is over about this is that the president of the united states is now dictating that certain laws will not be enforced. that is a rather serious step. it's one thing to say you're not going to challenge a law in court, or something like that. but, i don't recall a time when any president has basically said, we're that going to enforce a law that's on the books. >> will the decision stand, in your judgment? >> well, it would have to be challenged in court. >> what about legislatively? are you going to try to do anything? >> i don't think that that, with the agenda that we have. but, also, fact is that marco rubio and others have been working on a dream act. if the president would really serious maybe he would call him and some of us who have been involved in this issue. i remind you that in 2008, the president committed to comprehensive immigration reform. he had overwhelming majorities
in both houses of congress. nothing was done. no proposal was made. i was asked -- >> but you've been -- you've been for comprehensive immigration reform for a long time. you worked with ted kennedy, you worked with president bush. the republican party moved to the right on this issue and made that impossible. isn't that -- you can't lay that at president obama, can you? >> i can if you have 60 votes in the united states senate and overwhelming majority in the house for the first two years of your presidency. no matter what the position of the republican party was, so, i think that this is obviously a way to divert attention from very bad news the president's had for the last three or four weeks. i think that's very clear. what i would like to see is marco rubio and others are coming up, republicans with the dream act that i think we could negotiate on. everyone has sympathy for the plight of these young people. >> let's talk about what the dream act is. senator rubio says that if you're a child of an illegal immigrant, and this was, by the
way, a proposal the democrats had as well as president supported, if you're going to school, you join the military, that you could get on a path to citizenship. now mitt romney has said he would veto that law and back in january, in the fox news debate, january 16th, this was his position on the dream act. i'll show it to you. >> i think we have to follow the law, and insist that those that have come here illegal ultimately return home, apply, get in line with everyone else. >> that's not your view? do you wish that romney would change his view about the dream act and immigration generally? >> mitt romney has said recently, and a short time ago this morning that he's willing to address this issue. but he, and a lot of us, would like to see this addressed in comprehensive immigration reform because we need workers both in the high tech sector and the farming community. we need to address those remaining 10 million people who are here illegally. not just the children of people who are brought here illegally. this is one aspect of a need for
comprehensive immigration reform. and i'd like to remind you that when ted kennedy and i had comprehensive immigration reform, it was a obama -- senator obama amendment that was one of the factors, there were many, it was one of the factors that killed comprehensive immigration reform. and the issue was on the -- on the guest worker program. >> right. but you can't deny, the conservatives in the republican party that made a republican president who championed this issue unable to get this done. >> i think the major factor was probably on the right. but it was also on the left. democrats controlled by the labor unions who said that they did not want and fought against a guest worker program, which we felt was obviously something vitally important. >> you think mitt romney is wrong on the dream act? >> i think mitt romney, he said again this morning, he was -- and has said previously, he was certainly willing to address that issue in a -- and also immigration reform in a comprehensive fashion, as well. he is willing to do that, and is
ready to do that. he understands the plight of these young people. all of us are very concerned about that aspect of this issue. but i would also point out, i don't think romney -- mitt romney as president of the united states would say we're not going to enforce existing laws. that's the first time i've ever heard of a president doing that. it may have happened. but certainly not in this fashion. >> let me talk a little bit about the economy and some of the attacks that are being leveled by mitt romney against president obama. and it looks to be very similar to what obama did against you in 2008. so back in 2008, one of the most memorable lines, you said the fundamentals of the economy is strong, the obama team pounced on that, this is the ad they put out. you might recall. >> the fundamentals of our economy are strong. the fundamentals of our economy are strong. >> the idea here, which you thought was unfair and out of context is that you didn't get the economy. that you were out of touch. well now, fast forward, the president says that the private sector is doing fine, and here
the romney team pounces. this is the ad. >> the private sector is doing fine. the private sector is doing fine. doing fine. >> it's basically the same ad. >> yes. >> i would imagine you would say to mitt romney, hey, that's an unfair knock against president obama just as you thought it was an unfair knock against you. >> of course not. at the time the stock market had just fallen 700 points. americans were frightened. i wanted to reassure the american people that the fundamentals of our economy were strong. it's still the best system in the world. that's why we have steve jobs and apple and facebook and all of those things. and i still believe that. now, what president obama just said was that the private sector is doing fine. the private sector is not doing fine. and there's more to this than just that comment. it's his overall view. i mean he went on in that same statement to talk about how we need to hire more government workers. that the key to our economy is
toics and the bureaucracies of government. that's a fundamental difference between him and mitt romney and the reason why mitt romney's going to be elected. because mitt romney believes that businesses create johns. let me give you a small example. we've got a tral and a half dollars sitting overseas. double the stimulus package. all we have to do is bring that money home, these companies that are hodding that money promise to invest and hire, and we could have a stimulus to our economy. why is it that the obama administration won't bring that money home? it's because they want to tax them. the highest corporate tax rate in the world is in the united states of america. this is a kind of no-brainer stuff that because of his view of government, that it keeps us from doing these things. >> but there is another similarity when it comes to how to deal with, and how to evaluate mitt romney's business record at bain but also his experience of being governor of massachusetts. this has been the subject of an attack by president obama against mitt romney, because mitt romney says, look, i understand how to create jobs, i
was in the private sector. when those ideas were put to a test when he was the governor of massachusetts, a candidate back in 2000 it interpreted those results this way -- >> when he was governor they had the third or fourth worst economy of any state in america. the manufacturing jobs left this country at 7%. they left massachusetts at 14%. so, i think people just take a look at his record as governor, and again, as the head of his investment company, he presided over the acquisition of companies that immediately laid off thousands of workers. >> now again your campaign against mitt romney in two,000 eight is long over. but the substance of your critique is what the president is critiquing romney for today. you don't see any problem with that, do you? it's accurate? >> look, this is the height of a very tough primary campaign that mitt and i, were time after time after time i showed my respect
and appreciation for the fact that he was a successful republican governor, working with democrat legislature. the fact is that bain, yes, thousands were laid off, but also many more thousands were fired. it was a tough campaign and you say things in campaigns that obviously are to help you. but i can tell you this, that mitt romney's view of what this economy needs to be done, and what needs to be done to secure this economy and the record of what president obama has tried to do is vastly different. >> but you -- >> when you look at the stimulus, when you look at dodd-frank. do you believe that any -- that any organization, banking financial institution isn't too big to fail today? do you believe that obama care isn't opposed by some 60-some percent -- >> senator you don't disavow your critiques of the business credentials of mitt romney? >> my critique of the business credentials of mitt romney are
that he had successes and maybe had failures, and that's, unfortunately, the downside of the free enterprise capital system. but overall his record, i think, will stand and speak for itself. >> i want to ask you a couple of matters about foreign affairs, including something that's political as well. a casino owner is pledging vast sums to the super pac supporting mitt romney. new report this morning saying he may contribute as much as $100 million. are you concerned he will have undue influence on this election, and undue influence on mitt romney? >> well, i'm not only worried about him, i'm worried about many others. and i've always been concerned about the labor unions who take money from their union members, and without their permission, contribute to causes that they may not support. so, am i concerned about the incredible amount of money that's washing around? yeah. i was concerned also when president obama, when he was a candidate, said he would take matching funds, and then didn't. and then outraised me, obviously, by a great deal. i'm concerned that the president
continues to go around to all of these fund raisers when maybe he should be spending more time governing. >> so now to make money from a foreign casino as well you said this week tantamount to foreign money getting into the campaign. >> i think there will be scandals associated on the worst decision of the united states supreme court in the 21st century. uninformed, arrogant, naive. i just one of them had run for county sheriff. that's why we miss people like william rehnquist and sandra day o'connor who had some experience with -- with congressional and other races, with political -- >> you think allison himself will have undue influence on mitt romney? >> not any more than other people who give lots of money? not any more than the trade unions, labor unions have. the whole system is broken and it's a wash. i don't pick out mr. edellson any more than i pick out mr. trump. so the fact is that the system is broken, i predict to you there will be scandals, and i predict to you that there will be reform again. >> before you go, syria is a
deteriorate being and violent situation. the president will meet with vladimir putin, seems to be a frosty relationship over the issue of syria. what do you advocate at this point that you think is the most responsible course here to try to end the violence? >> most responsible course is first for the president to stand up and speak for these people? when was the last time the president of the united states spoke out and said, these people deserve our moral support? the second thing we need to do is make it a fair fight. it's an unfair fight now. russian shipments are coming in. our secretary of state just argued that helicopters -- russian helicopters are coming in to help bashar al assad while we do nothing. we sit on the sidelines. it cries out for american leadership. this president does not believe in american leadership and american competitionalism. and so we need to give them a sanctuary. we need to give them equipment, working with other nations in the region. >> but you say he doesn't believe in american -- just because he won't send arms into what could become a bloody civil war? that's what you want to get involved in? >> no. everything that the president has displayed from the beginning
of this presidency is that he does not -- >> you are not worried about the kind of civil war we've seen elsewhere in the middle east by adding arms into a conflict -- >> -- continued massacre and slaughter of innocent people, women being raped, to children being tortured and killed? you're not worried about that? you should be. >> leaders make decisions all the time about where to intervene and where not. we're not interfering in darfur and those women are being raped and kids are being killed there, too. >> of course that's an entirely different situation. but we did go to bosnia and we did go to kosovo and this also by the way would be the greatest blow to iran and the middle east in 25 years. so there is strategic aspect to this, as well. look, you can argue the case as long as you want. but the fact is, people are being killed and massacred and tortured and raped and it is an unfair fight. they are being supplied by the russians with iranians on the ground, and the fact that the united states of america is not helping these people, and we can, is shameful. >> all right. we'll leave it there. >> thank you. >> senator mccain, thank you
very much. happy father's day to you, as well. >> thank you. >> coming up here our political roundtable. how the campaigns are waging the fight. we're also going to vice up the candidates biographies and how their paths have shaped who they are today. joining me, author of a new revealing biography on president obama, david maraniss. presidential historian doris kearns goodwin. "time" magazine's mark halperin. former congressman harold ford and i went to a small high school. the teacher that comes to mind for me is my high school math teacher, dr. gilmore. i mean he could teach. he was there for us, even if we needed him in college. you could call him, you had his phone number. he was just focused on making sure we were gonna be successful. he would never give up on any of us. to your kids' wet skin. neutrogena® wet skin kids.
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roundtable. a lot to get me. joining me presidential historian doris kearns goodwin, senior political analyst at "time" magazine, mark halperin. author of the new biography "barack obama: the story" david maraniss is here, kim strassel and former democratic congressman from tennessee, harold ford jr. mark halperin, what struck me about this week is that the whole campaign was really on display. thursday in ohio, competing visions about the economy. who sparks recovery. who creates job and all the rest. friday targeting the most important electoral group out there, that's the latino vote, the president with his decision. of course david plouffe says nothing to do with politics, of course. how do you size it up this week? >> david plouffe said two things that i think are definitely true that we all need to keep in mind as we strap in here for the home stretch. one is no single group is going to decide this. yes the hispanic vote is very important but there are lots of other groups that are important. and the second thing is that the election is going to be really close. everybody in both parties believe that. i think right now you can list advantages the president has,
advantages governor romney has. i think what this week sees is the one big advantage governor romney has right now. he has one message. it's going to be his message at his convention speech. it will be his message in the debate. it will be his message on the election. the economy is not working, barack obama is in over his head. the president is still searching for a message. we saw in his speech in cleveland, a restart. a reframing. he's done that before. i suspect he'll have to do it again. he's not settled on what he wants to talk about. a second term, or simply what's wrong with mitt romney. >> right. and you heard from david plouffe, kim, a lot about what's wrong with mitt romney but not a lot of ownership over the past 3 1/2 years. >> well and that's the question whether or not the speech is going to work. because it was a reframing and an attempt to reach out. the problem he fundamentally has, that speech, 90% of it was about mitt romney. it was the new way of attacking mitt romney. all about how republican ideals have brought this country to a terrible place and how mitt romney would continue it. there's only about 10% that had to do with the president. and what he fundamentally did was, double down to some extent on what they've done for the past three years.
saying i like my green jobs program, i like my health care bill, i want to continue with this idea of higher taxes. and the problem for the president and this campaign is that no one is really happy with the last 3 1/2 years. he didn't lay out anything new for the future. and so he hasn't addressed that fundamental question which is what democrats are nervous about. is he looking ahead? >> yeah, and harold, what they're also worried about is the news. and i've spoken to administration officials who say not only is there weak demand now but as you get closer to the fiscal cliff coming at the end of the year there's worry that this is a pullback even further and then of course, there's greece in the news today and what's happening in europe. >> there's no doubt. the president, to kim's point, and to mark's point, is at a point he doesn't quite know what to say about the last four years other than things were really bad. and for whatever reason he's been reluctant to lay out where we go the next four you'res which he's got to do a much better job of. this should give him some comfort. i think mark is right, he's getting off to a good start explaining what he wants to do
with the economy and how it's behaved dernly and how markets would look differently if romney is elected. but he took control on the immigration issue. i think he has to take control on two or three other issues. he's got to take control on tax reform before the election is up to demonstrate to americans, particularly the market, that the fiscal cliff which obviously with europe is a terrible backdrop and obviously today we all hope that things go well there in greece, when i say well, that the austerity campaign wins out, but he's got to take control on tax reform. take control on entitlement reform. take control on innovation reform and demonstrate to the country here is where i will take us. otherwise i'm not convinced the narrative we have now is a winning one. i say now, we being a democrat. >> david maraniss, you write in your book about how loathe the president is to take big risks. he may take them in the end but he's still a very cautious person. how does he approach this campaign through the lens of what you've learned about? >> it's true. when he was the community organizer in chicago, the mentor there said he kept trying to push him to confront and he wouldn't do it. and he wouldn't take risks.
obviously in his presidency he's done that a few times, with his health care and with going after bin laden. i think that the interesting thing about obama in that regard is that he's never quite right at the zeitgeist. so people like, you know roundtables like this, they're always right at the moment. obama's not there. he's somewhere else. he's either before that or after that. and he also has a tendency, i've seen, to learn and go. so you know, he'll flounder around for awhile and you'll probably find that message, whether it's too late or not. >> somebody else is not always right in a moment but always hanging around with these guys in history is you, doris. so what do you make of, again, what i thought was so important about this week, is that this was not a distraction. this was not noise. this was very much what the campaign will be decided on, which are these two visions of what to do about the economy? >> and i think the person who wins will be who can tell the more compelling story about what caused the problem in the first place and what they're going to do to solve it in the second place. the guy i'm hanging around with
now, theodore roosevelt in 1907 there was a financial panic, it was pretty serious, pretty deep and the wall street guys and conservatives were piling on and saying you caused it with your regulations. he then gave this fiery speech where he said, well, first of all, if any individual actions caused it, europe had a lot to do with it, but it was you guys who were depositors in banks, banks owned deposits, they allowed them to speculate, failed as a result of it, and then there was an escalating failure. it was you guys who abused the power, and i saved you from that. my regulations are making it better and i'm going to double down on the regulations. i think what the president has to do is say we're at a fork in the road. he almost has to use your words, i am doubling down on what i did. he didn't do enough on the stimulus. he didn't do enough investing in the future. the things he believes in he has to say we need more of this. and that's our future. and he happens to diagnose that what went wrong has gone wrong for 20 years. not just the last four years. the middle class has been squeezed for a long time because of an unfair structure because of lack of investment and then you go forward with your diagnosis for the future. you tell a story from beginning to middle to end.
>> but part of that story the republicans seem to have done a pretty good job saying no government's not really the answer even if on the substance a lot of people believe that the government is the only one to really inject more into the economy at this stage. >> and i think, again, this is a problem. he presented this as two visions. but he doesn't want to talk about the past. he doesn't want to necessarily lay out the future begin. and then when you sit down to the nitty-gritty of the campaign what i found so fascinating about this announcement is when you step back what his campaign is actually been doing rather than a ground, unified theme, they've been out there targeting these constituencies that put together, part of the obama coalition in 2008 and trying to energize them one by one by throwing things out there to them. there's been the war on women. you've had the president out touring campuses to talk about student loans. you've had the big gay marriage announcement which was designed to rev up the liberal base. now you have the hispanic vote. because they know they have a general weakness. with general population. with some of those other groups like the white working class, and so they're going to have to get these folks out in big numbers. >> of course, you have to do
some things to win elections. >> well, harold talked about the inflection point we're at now. you saw that in david plouffe's presentation today. they're hoping that they can turn the three weeks of bad news into an opportunity to rev up their supporters. to have big donors start writing big checks. so say, here's a republican writing a $10 million check. where are our $10 million super pac checks. to have hispanics say if this is the type of immigration policy you want this is your time to get revved up. we'll see in the next few weeks. we've not had much national polling since the president's bad three weeks ended. let's see where they are. there's a real argument to be made that the election can be decided not post-labor day but in the next few weeks. >> i have another question, harold, about the reach out or the outreach, what about mitt romney from his point of view? he's still straddling the line on the dream act, he's not quite there. he's worried about shifting positions on immigration after he had to run so far to the right in the primary. >> there's no doubt. campaigns, i hear what kim is saying. understand most campaigns are
about waves. you find yourself trying to shore up your base. this president has to shore up excitement and flame excitement in those various groups, hispanics, the gay community and other communities that were revved up for him. i think the president as he talks about romney, remember, campaigns that have been successful, presidential ones in the past, have taken the opponent on his with strength. romney's strength he says is the economy. he tried to talk about private equity. i don't think that was the right thing to do. i think you go after him and show where he wants to take the country. if indeed, if the paul ryan plan is the blueprint for the budget for mitt romney the president's got to explain what the paul ryan plan means for michigan, ohio, pennsylvania, double down that way. i think if you double down with some of the regulations people may -- romney will point out the health care stuff didn't work for you. if you're in the telecom industry, didn't work for you because since the 1920s you've had the same regulations. in the gas industry, governor cuomo issuing permits for natural gas exploratioexplorati. he's doing it. why aren't you doing it? lay out how romney would do, how
america would look different and do it specifically. at the same time i still believe kim's right in half of what she's saying the president has to have a message about where he's going to take us in the next four years. and if you don't have that i don't know how you on vince people you deserve four more years. >> maybe it's not simple enough. it's not clear enough. but he's talking about investing in education. he's talking about investing in infrastructure. that word is not a great word, infrastructure. he's got to tell what it means to put these people on jobs that are not now working, because the system isn't giving them those jobs. he tried it but he didn't do enough. >> bridge to the future. he's got to -- he's got to capitalize. >> instead of bureaucrats that are getting more jobs he's got to talk about firemen, policemen, soldiers, teachers. that's who -- >> part of the problem is that all of this involves spending more money in >> right. >> let me get a break in here. i want to come back and talk more about what has shaped these two candidates, david maraniss is here to talk about what shaped president obama with his shaped president obama with his new b[ male announcer ] this is the at&t network. a living, breathing intelligence
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we're back with our roundtable, talking about how both campaigns are waging the fight. but also a little bit more about what drives these two men. david maraniss, your book "barack obama: the story" is coming out this week. and you've of course written about bill clinton, a surprise for that biography and you write about the parallel between these two figures, two presidents in your book and i'll put a piece of it up on the screen, you write when i wrote a biography of clinton one central theme that emerged from my study was a repetitive cycle of loss and recovery. whenever clinton was on top one could see the seeds of his own undoing and whenever he was down one could see he would find a way to recover. again and again this pattern in his life played out in his presidency. with obama a come comparable recurring theme is to avoid life's traps. first he escaped the trap of his unusual family biography, and then the trap of geography of spending most of his childhood in hawaii along with formative years on the other side of the world in indonesia and finally the trap of race in america with
his likelihood of rejection and cynicism. what a compelling and interesting and different biography that he has. >> you know, the other interesting part comparing those two is that they both came out of dysfunction, and clinton got past that by just plowing forward. you know, he would reinvent himself and forgive himself every day and just keep going and not deal with the contradictions in his life. that got him to the presidency. got him into trouble in the presidency. and then he figured out how to get out of it. he was the ultimate survivor. barack obama also comes out of dysfunction, and he spent ten years of his life from the time he got to occidental college to the time he went up to harvard law school, ten years, really trying to figure himself out. all of the contradictions of race, and of not knowing his father, it's father's day, all of those things, he tried to figure out emotionally, spir spiritu spiritually, racially, and he sort of did it. and that helped get him as an integrated personality to the white house and got him in trouble there. because he figured, if he could resolve all the kribzs of
myself, why can't congress? why can't this world? he wasn't ready to deal in that transactional way in which clinton was so terrific at. >> very interesting. >> i think one of the big differences is that clinton had a vulnerability to want to be liked and to be loved. which gives you a natural curse and a gift as a politician. because you draw people towards you magnetically. as you point out in the book, obama's more a participant, observer, of his own life. he's standing outside, perhaps his mother the anthropologist, perhaps losing that mother for long periods of time, though she loved him. losing the father, he sees his life from the outside in. some of our great figures have been like that but you don't feel that same connection. >> it isn't -- >> when they need you like -- >> harold, as a politician you understand that need for that one-on-one combat, or court it. it seems to me the president sort of republicans something to a lot of people, if you look at all things you could be scratching your head saying, wow, how did he become president? >> i'm sure my previous guest is thinking that.
and maybe mitt romney will. what he has shown i couldn't agree more. i think most great politicians come from a little dysfunction. and people's success in life come from some of that. i do hope that to the point you're making about the back and forth, and observing, that a lot of advice, i don't want to give them any more advice but i do hope he becomes a little more of a participant. challenge congress to come back and vote on simpson-bowles. challenge congress like he did on subsidies, challenge congress to come back and vote on the things he wants to do next. he's got to be a participant. >> one of the things that's interesting we talk about competing personalities, you also have mitt romney, that "time" magazine cover about raising romney and how much he learned from both of his parents. how unique it is, both parents sought high office and they failed and what did he learn from those mistakes? >> you know it's strange that you say, unusual to have both of your parents run. although he doesn't consider himself a politician. he's one term in office in massachusetts, thinks of himself as a business person. for those of us who spend a lot of time thinking about how are
they different and similar, i think they're both pretty detached from politics. they're both in politics for the right reason. the thing that i find most similar about them, they are the two least material presidential candidates i've ever covered. they are even tempered. they rarely get mad at their staff. they rarely get caught up in the daily media political freak show. very focused on what they want to do. i won't name names but there are a lot of people who ran for president recently who get a lot more caught up on what's on cable tv, and those guys do not. >> you also have the specter of two fathers here in their lives. >> completely different. although both -- romney's father was born in mexico, obama's father in kenya. but, romney is the youngest member of the family, just adored and worships his father. and barack didn't know his dad. and was probably lucky that he never lived with him. that's another lesson in my book. >> there's a picture from a visit when -- >> the only time he really saw him. when he was 10 years old.
>> speaking about fathers and father's day i wanted to end with a very interesting reflection about father's day. i did a "press pass" interview this week and i sat down with former major league pitcher jim abbott who was born, as you might recall, with one hand and was an inspiration to so many who saw him take the mound and overcome adversity to become one of the great pitchers, even pitch the no-hitter back in 1993 when he was with the yankees. we talked about his new book when we sat down "imperfect: an improbable life" in which he cites his parents and specifically his dad for instilling some very important lessons. >> you know, this book in a lot of ways, it had a lot of different motivations, but one of them was to say thank you to my parents and to pay tribute to my parents. they had me at a very early age. there was a lot of uncertainty in their life and ended up being a lot of sacrifice in their life to try to give me opportunities. and being born the way i was born, missing a right hand, i think of them a lot as parents, the ways that they sought for me to find solutions, for me to do the things i would need to do to
get through life and then ultimately the place for it, to play baseball, to play football, to play basketball. a lot of that was due to my dad's why not attitude. my dad used to say to me, jim, what's taken away once is given back twice. you've been given so much more than was ever taken away. and that's that sense of responsibility that i felt to live up to this, to do right by it. and to be the kind of person that they thought i could be despite the conditions that i was born into. >> that's what dads are for. right, doris? the baseball fan. what a wonderful message. >> i mean, to bring your son in to the world that you would never think he could compete in, given the physical needs of that world, and then have that bond between father and son. wow. >> and he makes the point again and again that you know, that his father said, look, you know, this is something you've got to live up to. yes it's a disability but you've just got to, something can really stop you from living. >> he threw a no-hitter. >> he's very proud of that. what he's most known for is the no-hitter and not just that he
was missing a hand. a terrific story. thank you to all of you. >> happy father's day. >> gentlemen. >> thank you. a full interview request jim abbott is within our website, you can also check the website afternoon for our take two web extra with mr. maraniss. we're going to talk a little bit more about the biography and the president and what he learned. that is all for today. we'll be back exweek. exclusive interview with florida senator marco rubio. that's next